NEARLY 1000 patients are now in hospital with Covid in Scotland, amid growing evidence of new virus wave.
The latest update from Public Health Scotland shows that there were 948 Covid positive patients in hospital on June 19, up from 748 on June 12 - an increase of 27%.
That compares to a previous week-on-week increase of 17%, from a Covid hospital occupancy of 637 patients on June 5.
It comes days after surveillance by the Office for National Statistics indicated that the prevalence of the virus was higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK and rising fast, from an infection rate of one in 50 in the week ending May 28 to one in 30 by the week ending June 10.
The rise in cases is being driven by the spread of the highly transmissible BA.4 and BA.4 Omicron strains and, to a greater degree in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, the BA.2.12.1 variant - an offshoot of Omicron BA.2 - which is already dominant in the United States.
All three carry mutations which makes them more contagious than previous variants, although - like earlier forms of Omicron - they tend to cause milder disease compared to the previous Delta variant.
Hospital admissions data, also published by Public Health Scotland, shows that a total of 696 people were admitted to hospital with Covid in the week ending June 14, up from 451 in the week ending May 24.
The majority of admissions - 187 (27%) - were in patients aged 80 and over.
Hospital admissions include patients admitted "because of" Covid; patients in hospital for other reasons who test positive on admission; and patients who test positive while in hospital, including those infected in hospital.
All patients with Covid, regardless of symptoms, have to be isolated in wards which are then closed to non-Covid patients, reducing the overall number of beds available for emergency and planned admissions.
The infection can also result in delays to treatment, and a slower recovery time, putting additional pressure on beds.